Monday, May 13

Fascinating Chemistry {Review}

When we think of homeschooling through high school, most of us are intimidated by the responsibility of teaching science and math.  After all, many of us struggled with those subjects ourselves in school, so what makes us think we could teach our kids...

Fascinating Chemistry, from Fascinating Education, is one of those programs that might be a great alternative for students who are strong auditory learners or for those who are interested in a more high-tech program. It might also be a good program for those older students who still struggle with reading comprehension.  The company offers programs in chemistry, biology, and physics.

What is included in this course:
The Chemistry course consists of the visual course in which Dr. Margulies narrates the entire presentation at a comfortable rate of speech; a multi-page script you can download and print off; chemistry experiments (you will need to have a second password to access these) and tests (which are online multi-choice tests and are self-graded or you can download PDFs of the tests).  You will need an online connection to access the course lectures, which are a PowerPoint-type presentation.

Material covered in the course:
  • Lesson 1:The Intramolecular Bond
  • Lesson 2: The Ionic Bond
  • Lesson 3: The Covalent Bond
  • Lesson 4: The Polar Covalent Bond
  • Lesson 5: The Metallic Bond, Part 1
  • Lesson 6: The Metallic Bond, Part 2
  • Lesson 7: Heat
  • Lesson 8: Air Pressure
  • Lesson 9: Properties of Water
  • Lesson 10: The Mole
  • Lesson 11: Gases
  • Lesson 12: Solutions
  • Lesson 13: Chemical Reactions
  • Lesson 14: Orbitals
  • Lesson 15: Electrochemistry
  • Lesson 16: Polymers
  • Lesson 17: The Nucleus
  • Lesson 18: Final Problems
Labs, which are matched to the lessons:
  • Lesson 2: Salt Crystals
  • Lesson 3: London Dispersion Forces
  • Lesson 6:Making Brass
  • Lesson 7: Heat of Fusion and Volume of Ice
  • Lesson 8: Weight of Air,Atmospheric Pressure, and Barometer
  • Lesson 9: Density, Sugar in soft drinks, and Viscosity
  • Lesson 11: Heat
Could this course count as a high school chemistry credit?  
According to the FAQs, the content in the course is similar to that found in other high schools chemistry classes.  However, in terms of the amount of material (plus labs), it doesn't seem to add up to the approximate 120-150 hours of coursework necessary for full year Chemistry class.  It seems to me that additional resources would need to be added to this class in order for me to feel confident that my student was doing work worthy of a high school course.

Our Thoughts
Because Fascinating Chemistry is designed for high school students, and my son is an 11-year-old 6th grader, we broke each lesson down a bit more than suggested.  We spent at least a week on each lesson.  We watched them once, read through the printed script together, and then watched them again.  We reviewed the material at least twice before heading into the lab section.  

I like how Dr. Margulies combines visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles for the most retention of the material.  The lessons are presented clearly and in an understandable manner, and the graphics are beautiful and informative.  Also, when we hit upon an activity that my son asks to do (very rare event), rather than my telling him to do it, it gets brownie points!

A couple of suggestions that I would like to see added to the course
  • A PDF of all materials needed for all of the labs in the course…so that we make sure to have them on-hand.
  • Printable PDFs of the diagrams presented in the power point.

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